You are far too important to let discouragement get you down. God has a plan for your life, and the world needs what you have to give. Yet discouragement is always knocking on your door. That’s actually a good sign – resistance like that means you’re pushing back darkness in some way, and that’s always an uphill battle.
In times of stress, challenge or setbacks, here are Four Ways to Fight Discouragement that I hope will help you as much as they have me:
1. Encourage Yourself with God’s Word
The Bible is full of encouragement, and examples of people who needed it. King David of Israel was one guy who constantly fought this battle. He had more than his fair share of trouble, and he spoke more about his feelings and struggles than any other Biblical author. One time following a military defeat, David fought discouragement by being proactive. 1 Samuel 30:6 says, “David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the LORD his God.”
Encouragement probably isn’t going to come find you; you will most likely have to go find it. And there is a ton of it waiting for you in the Bible. One of my favorite verses says, “Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles” (Psalm 119:50).
Here’s a challenge: Google “Bible verses on discouragement” and see what comes up. I bet you’ll notice just how much God thinks of you, and how much he wants to encourage you.
2. Tell Someone You Trust
“You’re only as sick as you’re secrets.”
I learned that line from the leader of our church’s recovery ministry, and I’ve found it to be true. There’s something so healing about sharing what’s going on in your soul. Even if they can’t do anything to help at the moment, knowing that someone else is sharing your burden lightens the load on you. That alone can be a huge help.
Who do you know that you could talk to about your discouragement? Even mentioning it can bring relief. If you choose someone you trust, you’ll know that it’s safe to share because they’ll keep your conversation private. You’ll have a chance to open up and talk through what’s bothering you. You’ll have a sounding board to bounce your thoughts off, and you’ll be able to get advice or suggestions on how to proceed.
Personally, I’ve benefitted enormously from having people I can trust in my life. My wife, my team, my friends & family, I’ve shared my struggles with all of the above and every time I have I’ve been relieved and encouraged.
3. Do Something Fun
Fun is a great counselor! Sometimes discouragement comes from too much seriousness all lumped together in your life. I’ve learned from working with many families and individuals in seasons of heavy trouble or tension that the little doses of lighthearted fun can shake up the monotony, put a smile back on your face, and break your negative patterns.
Part of the reason for this is a simple change of place and pace. Get out of your normal environment, and do something different and fun. Whether it’s go-carts, a day-hike, going to a waterpark, or something else you love, don’t neglect this important part of your life.
Personally, I believe in the importance of weaving fun into every week. In my family, we have learned to use our time off and make the most of it. My wife and I always have some fun activity planned as part of our day off together. We’ve hiked mountains, biked cities, taken tours, explored buildings…you get the picture. The point is, all work and no play makes you dull, and easily discouraged.
How are you going to “play” this week?
4. Start Planning Your Next Big Thing
After Apollo 11’s mission to the Moon in July of 1969, the returning astronauts struggled to readjust to life on earth. Some say that when you’ve done something that big, everything is downhill from there.
The same can be true of you. After you accomplish something, it’s appropriate to celebrate appropriately, rest just a little, and get on to the next big thing you’ve got coming. It’s tempting to ride your past success for a while, but plenty of examples point to the fact that this approach leads to discouragement. You were built to keep reaching.
In my own life and ministry I find that seasons are helpful for this. Personally, I organize my life into three seasons a year and set goals for each of them (Jan-April, May-Aug, and Sept-Dec). I find that’s enough time for me to pursue something challenging and pause to recalibrate.
How about you? What’s your next big thing?